Online poker cash game tracking site PokerScout.com released its weekly traffic report on Sunday, showing a rate of growth for the industry at historically low levels.
Last week, the number of cash game players at online poker rooms decreased 1.8 percent from the previous week, pushing the annual growth rate for the industry down to just 6 percent.  Not bad for most industries, but this is the lowest the growth rate poker has ever experiences.  Keep in mind, however, that this is for cash games only.  PokerScout.com does not track tournament traffic.  On the flip side, the site’s numbers actually overstate the number of unique players visiting the ring tables at internet poker rooms, as it counts one person playing at four tables as four separate people.  In short, it counts occupied seats.
There are a number of possible reasons as to why traffic lagging right now.  For one, summer is typically a slow season for online poker, as people do not stay indoors as often as they do during other seasons.  Additionally, the World Series of Poker is in full swing in Las Vegas, so thousands of players who might normally be grinding (and often multi-tabling) online are busy competing in live tournaments and cash games at the Rio.  The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) could also have something to do with it.  Financial institutions were required to begin enforcing the UIGEA’s regulations on June 1st, and while it is still possible to deposit money at online poker rooms, there have been reports of it getting more difficult.  While many people expect any obstacles to be short-term, they are obstacles nonetheless.
The top two rooms in the industry – PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker — remain unchanged, and will stay that way for a long time unless something crazy happens.  The iPoker Network has leapfrogged PartyPoker for the third spot, although both now have seven day averages of fewer than 4,000 players per day.  iPoker and PartyPoker have been flip-flopping positions for the last five weeks.
Spots six through eight continue to be a log jam, with the order in any given week continuing to be a toss-up.  This week, the International Poker Network (IPN) and Everest Poker are tied with 2,000 players (although IPN has a higher 24-peak at the time of this writing).  Just 60 players behind them is the CEREUS Network, home of Absolute Poker and UltimateBet.
Continuing its death spiral is the Cake Poker Network, which is in danger of falling under 1,000 players.  It is now in 13th place, behind the likes of the People’s Network and then Entraction Network.  Cake Poker is hoping that the release of its new software, Cake Poker 2.0, which is currently in beta testing mode, will help boost its numbers in the near feature.
The highlighted room in the report was the World Poker Exchange, also known as the World Sports Exchange, or WSEX.  WSEX made small waves in the industry a couple years ago when it decided to go rake-free by refunding all of its customers rake every week.  If figured it could do this because it makes enough of money from its popular sports book to cover the losses.  Unfortunately for WSEX, this wasn’t enough to build a customer base, as without any advertising, the poker room was never able to gain casual players.  Now, the poker room is, for all intents and purposes, finished, as it only has a seven-day average of 10 cash game players.

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